Find information to help you prepare for your visit with Allergy Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Preparing for your visit with Allergy Associates

Registering as a Massachusetts General Hospital patient

If you are a new Mass General patient, please call the Patient Registration and Referral Center at 866-211-6588 to receive a Mass General Medical Record Number (MRN). The center is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This unique number is our way of tracking patient information, including insurance providers and important contact information.

Getting a referral

A majority of patients seen in our practice need a referral from their primary care provider.  Please consult with your insurance carrier prior to your appointment.  If a referral is needed but not obtained, you will be responsible for payment.

What to bring to Allergy Associates

  • Photo ID
  • Mass General Medical Record Number (MRN)
  • New patient forms completed (if you are a new patient)
  • Insurance Card
  • Prescription plan card
  • Co-payment
  • Referral from your Primary Care Physician (it is the patient's responsibility to obtain this referral). Patients who are seen without a referral will be asked to sign a waiver and may be billed directly.
  • If you will be undergoing skin testing, please see Preparing for Skin Testing section below.

If you are unable to keep your appointment

Please notify our office at least two (2) business days prior to your scheduled office visit.  This allows us to schedule other patients who are waiting for an appointment.

New patient visits and skin testing

  • Please arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time of your appointment to be checked in. If you are more than 15 minutes late for your appointment, you may be asked to reschedule to a later date.
  • Your initial appointment may take as long as 3 hours because of the time required for skin testing. Your initial examination may include a series of skin tests to identify allergens to which you are sensitive. You will see the doctor at the end of your testing session.
  • For patients scheduled for skin testing, all antihistamines should be avoided for 5 days prior to your office visit.
  • Please wear a sleeveless shirt for skin testing, as test reagents will be placed on both the upper and lower parts of the arms.

Skin testing appointment

Skin testing is a routine procedure used to determine a patient's allergic sensitivities.  Your initial examination may include a series of skin tests to identify allergens to which you are sensitive.  Wear a sleeveless shirt for skin testing, as test reagents will be placed on both the upper and lower parts of the arms.  Your initial visit may take as long as 3 hours because of the time required for skin testing.

Discontinuing antihistamine medication

Certain medications can interfere with the interpretation of allergy skin tests and need to be discontinued for 5 days before your initial appointment or any subsequent appointment at which you anticipate having allergy skin testing.  These medications include oral or intranasal antihistamines and certain antidepressant medications called tricyclic antidepressants.

Common prescription and non-prescription antihistamines include:

  • Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Clarinex (desloratadine)
  • Astelin/Astepro (azelastine hcl) nasal spray
  • Patanase nasal spray
  • Vistaril and Atarax (hydroxyzine)
  • Benadryl
  • Chlotrimeton
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  • Claritin/Alavert (loratadine)
  • Tylenol PM

If you are not certain whether the medication you are taking is an antihistamine, are concerned about discontinuing your medications, of if you have any other questions, please contact us at 617-726-3850.  If you are unable to stop taking antihistamines because of the severity of your symptoms, continue on the medication but keep your appointment.  Another approach to testing will be considered by your doctor.

Your Allergy and Immunology Associates healthcare team

You will be evaluated and cared for by physicians who have received specialized training in the field of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.  As MGH is a teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School, doctors receiving advanced subspecialty medical training, such as residents and fellows, may also work with your physician.

Registered nurses

The nursing staff is adept at caring for patients with allergic and immunologic diseases, including the performance of allergy skin testing, pulmonary function testing and allergen injection immunotherapy.  Your nurse works closely with other members of the team to help you to understand your diagnosis and treatment, manage medications and possible side effects, effectively care for yourself, and prevent medical problems.  Also, they can act as case managers, helping you navigate the various services here at Mass General Hospital as well as beyond.

Related links

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology - What is Allergy Testing?